Republican Attacks on the Postal Service Threaten our American Way of Life
You might have noticed that it has taken a little longer for mail to arrive at its destination recently. With all of the turbulence and turmoil going on, though, you might not know why it’s happening. There is a long history of Republican animosity toward the postal service, preferring private, for-profit businesses take over our deliveries. The short, and more recent, story is that Republicans, and Donald Trump in particular, have launched attacks at the postal service in an attempt to disrupt and discredit mail-in, or absentee, voting. This in itself is dangerous for our democracy. However, it has many other consequences, as well.
First, let’s look at what has been done. The Trump-appointed Board of Governors selected Louis DeJoy as the nation’s new Postmaster General. DeJoy is a former supply-chain CEO and major donor to Trump and other Republicans; he is the first Postmaster General in nearly two decades who is not a career postal employee. Upon taking office, DeJoy began instituting “cost-cutting measures” such as eliminating overtime pay and holding mail until the next day if postal distribution centers are running late; internal memos obtained by news outlets talk about upcoming reductions of hours at post offices.
All of this has taken a toll on morale among postal employees. Postal workers are hard-working, dedicated public servants who take pride in their work. While they have been instructed not to speak to the press, those who have done so anonymously describe the difficulty of seeing mail left on the docks or workroom floors overnight because they are forced to stop working at a certain time. Postal workers are out every day, regardless of conditions, ensuring our bills, checks, and medications are delivered on time. They get to know people on their routes; there are dozens of stories out there of mail carriers saving the lives of people on their route who were in distress and otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
Careers in postal service are family-supporting jobs. The U.S. Postal Service is one of the country’s largest employers of veterans, with nearly 100,000 vets working as postal employees; shipping to American military bases currently costs the same as shipping domestically, so the postal service is an important vessel for letters and care packages. Approximately twenty percent of postal employees are Black; for many, a career with the postal service has provided a pathway to the middle class. For so many reasons, the USPS is always listed at the top of Americans’ favorite government agencies. Trump and Republican actions seek to undermine all of this, and put our entire way of life at risk, in a cheap political ploy. We can’t let them.